Castiglione Garfagnana


Castiglione takes its name after the primitive “castrum” (war castle) built by the Romans, that developed in the times of the Longobards and Franks in Italy. The whole town is a monument, as it is very rare today to find a fortified “borgo” with almost completely preserved walls and a Rock that still holds its primitive splendour, with still majestic turrets. From Castiglione the Natural Reserve of the Orecchiella extends for more than 52 square kms, from the sweet round slopes of the first ridges of the Apennines to the harsh crests of the twin calcareous massifs surrounded by sheer walls and steep gorges. Due to this variegated morphology one finds many diffent natural environments with diverging microclimates, which influences the flora and its forms. Ascending from the chestnut and oaks groves at lower altitudes to the the upland prairies, one sees small beech forests and conifers reafforestations under the slopes, and then only thick beechwood up the mountainside. The importance of this floristic diversity is largely recorded in Orto Botanico della Pania of Corfino, owned by the Union of Garfagnana Municipalites. Wonderful mountain flowerings and blossomings can be seen in the Mountain Flowers Garden, kept by the Corps of Forest Rangers near the Reception Centre of the park. Also the fauna is interesting, especially for the many artiodactyls: deers, roes, boars and moufflon. But there are also many other species, such as hares, squirrels, dormice, foxes, martens, and a main predator, wolves. Bears are a case apart, they were living on these mountains until the end of the eighteenth century, and now are back to the Orecchiella: a protected faunistic area gives hospitality to seven bears, part from a zoo, others born there. Other sections are dedicated to deers roes and moufflons, and are organized in a facilitated pathway leading the visitors, with didactic trails and the possibility of excursions, also of more than one days. They all start from the Reception Centre, that has its own naturalistic museum, projection room, library and labs. The organization caters to both schoolchildren and young and not so young tourists: there are mountain refuges and huts, restaurants, a camping area and a trailers area, and a shop selling typical culinary products. You can take walking excursions in the park, or rent mountain bikes or a horse, to discover the secrets of this surprising natural area. There are also guided tours offered by a local guides cooperative (Coop. Garfagnana Vacanze).

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